Thora Dolven Balke at MELK / Oslo

Thora Dolven Balke
Rough Seas

December 03, 2021 — January 16, 2022

MELK
Hallings gate 5
Oslo, Norway
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2021, exhibition view, MELK, Oslo
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2015, 81 × 51 × 5 cm, parts of ambulance stretcher cast in iron, mattress foam
Thora Dolven Balke, Ghost fold, 2021, 116 × 90 cm, pigment print on transparent foil, folded exam table paper
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2015, 114 × 51 × 5 cm, parts of ambulance stretcher cast in iron, mattress foam
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2021, exhibition view, MELK, Oslo
Thora Dolven Balke, Flood, 2021, 116 × 90 cm, pigment print on transparent foil, folded exam table paper
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2021, exhibition view, MELK, Oslo
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2021, exhibition view, MELK, Oslo
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2021, exhibition view, MELK, Oslo
Thora Dolven Balke, FLOW series, 2021, 40 × 35 × 2,5 cm, cast silicone, original polaroid
Thora Dolven Balke, FLOW series, 2021, detail
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2021, exhibition view, MELK, Oslo
Thora Dolven Balke, FLOW series, 2021, detail
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2021, exhibition view, MELK, Oslo
 Thora Dolven Balke, FLOW series, 2021, 37 × 39 × 2,5 cm, cast silicone, original polaroid
Thora Dolven Balke, FLOW series, 2021, detail
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2021, exhibition view, MELK, Oslo
Thora Dolven Balke, FLOW series, 2021, 40 × 35 × 2,5 cm, cast silicone, original polaroid
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2021, exhibition view, MELK, Oslo
Thora Dolven Balke, Ghost fold, 2021, detail
Thora Dolven Balke, FLOW series, 2021, 40 × 35 × 2,5 cm, cast silicone, original polaroid
Thora Dolven Balke, FLOW series, 2021, 40 × 35 × 2,5 cm, cast silicone, original polaroid
Thora Dolven Balke, FLOW series, 2021, detail
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2021, exhibition view, MELK, Oslo
Thora Dolven Balke, FLOW series, 2021, 40 × 35 × 2,5 cm, cast silicone, original polaroid
Thora Dolven Balke, FLOW series, 2021, 40 × 35 × 2,5 cm, cast silicone, original polaroid
Thora Dolven Balke, Deeply Missed, 2021, 60 × 131 cm, pigment print on transparent foil, dishwasher drip tray, transparent silicone
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2021, exhibition view, MELK, Oslo
Thora Dolven Balke, FLOW series, 2021, detail
Thora Dolven Balke, FLOW series, 2021, 40 × 35 × 2,5 cm, cast silicone, original polaroid
Thora Dolven Balke, FLOW series, 2021, 40 × 35 × 2,5 cm, cast silicone, original polaroid
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2021, exhibition view, MELK, Oslo
Thora Dolven Balke, Rough Seas, 2021, exhibition view, MELK, Oslo

All images courtesy and copyright of the artist and gallery. Photos by Christian Tunge.

The term Rough Seas evokes a sense of instability. It is used to describe a difficult situation or time, conjuring unrest, agitation or excitement. Despite the magnitude of its symbolism, it is also used to describe an intimate reality, as is often the case in the artist’s work.


Dolven Balke depicts familiar situations in seemingly ordinary places, grown out of her own experiences. In her images there are figures relaxing by water, bones of aquatic animals, a grieving man lying on a picnic table, a woman pumping milk from her breasts or an MRI scanner with signs of recent use. Mundane scenes become condensed monuments to everyday life. Her photographs are often shown side by side with sculptures using tactile materials and recognizable objects.


The ongoing series FLOW shows original polaroids cut out from cast silicone objects. The material is skin-like, typically used in prosthetic limbs or special effects. These rectangular sliced bodies in different tones replicate water-resistant patterns such as anti-slip pads, dish drying mats, wet room appliances and suction pumps.


The artist finds tenderness in the unemotional materials that lend support in moments of frailty or affection. In the two sculptures that give the exhibition its title, parts of an ambulance stretcher cast in iron sink into pieces of mattress foam. The heaviness of these tools slowly pressure and shape the contrastingly soft bodies displayed on the floor. The show also comprises two larger prints on transparent foil draped over folded blue bench paper - a kind of plastic paper used in medical examinations.


A stainless metal handrail greets the visitors at the entrance in an offer of support. The shiny and cold architectural feature, like a safety measure on the deck of a ship, curves around the wall and guides the audience into the exhibition. Albeit the exhibition’s tidy surface there is a massive suggestion of liquids flowing, spilling, draining, dripping and pumping. A playful reference to the wetness that accompanies care and intimacy, and the failed attempts to contain life’s relentless leakage.



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